In contrast to Hollywood in the early 1960s which was churning out glamorous Technicolor-drenched blockbusters, the British were quite happy to offer up a small black and white production, set just outside Burnley, about a group of naive, rural children who think they have discovered Jesus in a farm outbuilding. Whistle Down The Wind (1961), is a charming and touching film, delivered with grit and a lack of sentiment. From a story by Mary Hayley Bell it was the directorial debut of Bryan Forbes, part of the new breed of directors unafraid of venturing north, who would create many of the so called ‘kitchen sink’ dramas from the 1950s and 60s. The story concerns a murderer on the run, played by a roguish Alan Bates, who seeks refuge in a remote farm. The eldest of the children is played by Hayley Mills, the daughter of John Mills and Mary Hayley Bell, but the film is stolen by the many other children who inhabit the film, all non actors and plucked from the surrounding area. Beautifully filmed, its grim northern backdrop and welly-booted children make us yearn for those more innocent times. The more nostalgic amongst you may want to bring a hanky.

Fri 26 Oct, Whitworth Art Gallery, Oxford Road, M15 6ER. Tel: 0161 275 7496, 6.15pm, £5/6.


Fri 26 Oct
Eddy Rhead
Published on:
Thu 25 Oct 2012